Page images
PDF
EPUB

I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of everybody else. I also believe in John C. Breckinridge, and I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of Stephen A. Douglas and of everybody else; and I also equally and implicitly believe in John Bell as a candidate for president of the United States, and I pledge myself to vote for him to the exclusion of Douglas and Breckinridge. I promise faithfully to vote for them all, and to vote, at the same time, against either one, except the one not designated as my choice.”

Now here is the trinity in unity and unity in trinity, of the political church, just now come to us by the light of a new revelation, and christened "Fusion.” And this “Fusion” party, wbat is the motive to which it appeals? You may go with me into the streets to-night and follow the little giants, who go with their torchlights and their flaunting banners of “Popular Sovereignty;" or you may go with the smaller and more select and modest band who go for Breckinridge and slavery; or you may follow the music of the clanging bells, and, strange to say, they will all bring you into one common chamber. When you get there you will hear only this emotion of the human heart appealed to, fear,-fear that if you elect a president of the United States according to the constitution and the laws to-morrow, you will wake up the next day and find that

you have no country for him to preside over. Is that not a strange motive for an American patriot to appeal to? And in that same hall, amid the jargon of three discordant members of the fusion party, you will hear one argument, and that argument is, that so sure as you are so perverse as to cast your vote singly, lawfully, honestly, as you ought to do, for one candidate for the presidency, instead of scattering it among three candidates, so that no president may be elected, this Union shall come down over your heads, involving you and us in a common ruin.

Fellow citizens, it is time, high time, that we know whether this is a constitutional government under which we live. It is high time that we know, since the Union is threatened, who are its friends and who are its enemies. The republican party who propose in the old appointed constitutional way to choose a president, are every man of them loyal to the Union. The disloyalists, wherever they may be, are those who are opposed to the republican party and attempt to prevent the election of a president. I know that our good and esteemed neighbors—Heaven knows I have cause to respect and esteem and honor and love them as I do, for such neigh. bors as even my democratic neighbors, no other man ever had—I know that they do not avow, nor do they mean to support or think they are supporting disunionists. But I tell them that he who propose's to lay hold of the pillars of the Union and bring it down into ruin, is a disunionist; that every man who quotes him, and uses his threats and his menaces as an argument against our exercise of our duty, is an abettor, unconscious though he may be, of disunion ; and that when tomorrow's sun shall bave set and the next morning's sun shall have risen upon the American people, rejoicing in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, those men who to-day sympathize with, uphold, support and excuse the disunionists, will have to make a sudden choice and choose whether, in the language of the senator from Georgia, they will go for treason and so make it respectable, or whether they will go with us for freedom, for the constitution, and for eternal Union.

TIJE PAST AND TIIE FUT!!RF.

THE past was for the east—the future is for the west. Empire has culminated in the east, and is now passing to the west. The past was for slavery, which at one time was practically universal in the east. The future is for freedom, which, in the order of Providence, is to be universal in the west. The change from past eastern slavery to future western freedom is to be effected simply by bringing the mind of the nation to a just apprehension of what slavery is. Our fathers in the east understood it to be a question simply of trade. The Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States, announced on the other hand, that slavery is a question of human rights. While they left the regulation of that subject within the states to the states themselves, they did establish the principle that in the common territories of the United States and within the sphere of federal action, every man is a person, a man, a free man, who could neither hold another in slavery nor be held in bondage by any other man.

* Extract from a speech at Cleveland, Oct. 4, 1860.

SPEECHES

IN THE

SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES.

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK MEETING.'

be proper:

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1854. " The invitation to a meeting to be held in the city of New York, to protest against any repeal or violation of the Missouri compromise, with which you hare honored me, has been received. My constant attendance here is required by the interest which the city of New York and the state of New York have in the great projects of a railroad to San Francisco, and the extension of our commerce to the islands and continents divided from us by the Pacific ocean, which are now bing matured in committees to which I belong. Moreover the day designated for the meeting is one upon which the senate may be brought to a vote upon the bold and dangerous measure which has so justly excited the patriotic apprehensions of the citizens of the metropolis. I could not be safely absent from the capital under these circumstances, even if my attendance in New York would otherwise

"You have kindly asked me, in view of this inability, to give you such an expression of my •sentiments as may help to arouse the north to the defense of its rights, and the south to maintenance of its plighted honor.'

Permit me to say, in response to the appeal, that when the slavery laws of 1850 were under discussion in the senate, I regarded the ground then demanded to be conceded by the worth as a vantage ground, which, when once yielded, would be retrieved with infinite difficulty afterward, if, indeed, it should not be absolutely irretrievable; and that, I, therefore, in my place as a representative here, said and did all that it was in my power to do and say, and all that I could now do and say, to help to rouse the north to the defense of its rights, and south to the maintenance of its honor.' When, afterward, eminent members of congress, who had been engaged in passing tliose laws, carried an appeal against those who had opposed them before the people in their primary assemblies, I declined to follow them then, and I have ever since refrained from all unnecessary discussions of the slave laws of 1850, and of matters pertaining to slavery, even here, as well as elsewhere, because I was unwilling to injure so jast a cause by discussions which might seem to betray undue solicitude, if not a spirit of faction. We have only now arrived at a new stage in the trial of that appeal. For it is quite clear that if the slavery laws had not been passed in 1850, for the territories acquired from Mexico, there would have been no pretense for extending such slavery laws now, over the territories before acquired from Louisiana, and that if we had maintained our ground on the laws of freedom, which then protected New Mexico and Utah, we should not now have been attacked in our stronghold in Nebraska. It is equally evident, also, that Nebraska is not all that is to be saved or lost. If we are driven from this field, there will yet remain Oregon and Minnesota, and we who thought only so lately as 1849 of securing some portion at least of the shore of the gulf of Mexico and all of the Pacific coast to the institutions of freedom, will be, before 1859, brought to a doubtful struggle father ent the extension of slavery to the shores of the great lakes, and thence

rd to Puget's sound. I hope, gentlemen, that for one, I may be allowed The Due to the end that abstinence from popular agitation which I have heretoStates, ised, less from considerations of self-respect than from my confidence in

ty and virtne of the people I represent. Nevertheless, I beg you to be human rit

, while declining to go into popular assemblies, as an agitator, I shall the states) do my duty here with as many true men ås shall be found in a delega

if all were firm and united in the maintenance of public right and that in theld be able to control the decision of this great question. But the sphere of success and effect which shall crown our exertions must depend now,

on the fidelity with which the people whom we represent shall who could

'policy and principles which are the foundation of their own unriby any othey and greatness. lemen, with great respect and esteem, your obedient servant,

“ WILLIAM H. Seward." 1 See ante page 27.

SPEECHES

IN

THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES.

NEBRASKA AND KANSAS.

FREEDOM AND PUBLIC FAITH.?

The United States of America, at the close of the revolution, rested southward on the St. Mary's, and westward on the Mississippi, and possessed a broad, unoccupied domain, circumscribed by those rivers, the Alleghany mountains, and the great northern likes. The constitution anticipated a division of this domain into states, to be admitted as members of the Union, but it neither provided for nor foresaw any enlargement of the national boundaries. The people, engaged in reörganizing their governments, improving their social systems, and establishing relations of commerce and friendship with other nations, remained many years content within their apparently ample limits. But it was already known that the free navigation of the Mississippi would soon become an urgent public want.

France, although she had lost Canada, in chivalrous battle, on the Heights of Abraham, in 1763, nevertheless, still retained her ancient territories on the western bank of the Mississippi. She had also, just before the breaking out of her own fearful revolution, reäcquired, by a secret treaty, the possessions on the gulf of Mexico, which, in a recent war, had been wr sted from ber by Spain. Her

1

Vol. IV.

Speech in the United States Senate, February 17, 1854,

55

« PreviousContinue »